Q. Are modern/satellite/plant-type churches killing off parish churches?
This is something that my Dad believes with a passion. His view of our church (which, by the way, is officially part of the Church of England and the local diocese, and approved by the Bish etc etc) is that it is drawing people away from the parish churches. My simple answer is, well what does that tell you?
But I wonder, does he have a point? Should that matter? On the one hand I think, no he’s wrong, if the village churches catered a bit more for what people need they would be packed on a Sunday too. I mean the very fact that within 5 miles of us there are 2 large contemporary churches that are packed every Sunday, must show there is a need for that in the area right?
But on the other hand there are hundreds of beautiful old churches, across the world not just the UK, consecrated for the very purpose of worshipping God, with a handful of worshippers under their roofs every Sunday. So should we not be encouraging people to support their parish churches?
This is something I do feel very strongly about. There are churches being closed every week, being deconsecrated and turned into houses and offices and even bars. Some of these have been used for worship for hundreds of years. Is this right? If modern churches are having to hire sports halls and leisure centres for their services, then why not use some of these old churches. Even churches in use are often half empty every Sunday morning, so why do they have to do this? It seems completely backward in a way – crazy that on Easter Sunday at the 8am service in a local village to me, there were 20 people. 20 PEOPLE!! and yet down the road there were 20 people just waiting to set up for their service, only to find they had to run over to the local sports hall for help. so that 300+ people could come and worship. I am a bit of an architecture fan and whilst I understand many old buildings are not ideal for big services, it is possible and to me seems overtly sensible. Why can’t an outside church hire or use an existing church building for a service on a Sunday? or even once a month? Why can’t our church buildings be full every week?
Going back to the original question, in actual fact the congregation of my church is geographically very wide spread so although some people are chosing it over their local parish church, in the case of individual churches I dont think it is making a big dent in any single existing congregation. So then if people are coming from such a wide area, that presumably indicates that none of our local parish churches are offering what the locality needs, whilst the modern ones have to hire sports halls and are packed every weekend. So what does that say?..